Shin Splints & How to Prevent Them

As the weather gets warmer, you can take your training outside!

It is important to take precautions to prevent injuries like shin splints when training. Monica Boyer, GHS Athletic Trainer with the Granville Sports Medicine Program, explains shin splints and how you can avoid them.

What are shin splints?

Repetitive stress causes microtrauma to the muscles and soft tissue of the lower leg, presenting as pain and tenderness along the front and inner sides of your shin bone, the tibia (aka: Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)

Who gets shin splints?

Athletes that perform repetitive physical activities are at higher risk for developing shin splints. Including those involved in track & cross country, soccer, basketball, tennis, and even gymnastics. However, anyone can get them.

Shin splints can also occur in those who are not accustomed to repetitive lower leg movements (i.e. those in training for a competitive event).

How to prevent shin splints

  • Make sure you are wearing the appropriate footwear when running! Do not run in any other shoes than running shoes. If you know you have high arches or flat feet, use the appropriate shoe inserts/orthotics.
    • Many people do not know that there are different types of shoes for the type of foot you have. Talk with your athletic trainer, doctor, orthopedic, or podiatrist to see what they recommend for you.
  • Maintain a healthy diet & make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D and calcium
    • If you’re lactose intolerant, supplements might be the right choice for you.
  • Modify your training schedule to reduce repetitive stress
    • Develop a training plan that gradually increases your speed and/or distance
    • Try other forms of exercise like swimming or biking
  • Make sure you are STRETCHING and STRENGTHENING your lower leg muscles, especially your calves. Weak and/or tight muscles can be a cause of shin splints.
  • If your shin splints get to the point of pain when walking or during daily activities, take a break from running. Muscle fatigue can cause stress fractures.
  • Always consult a doctor before self-diagnosing or treating shin splints or stress fractures.
Monica Boyer, ATC, LAT, is a Licensed Athletic Trainer, providing sports medicine services to the student athletes of Granville Central High School.